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Hundreds of Bulgarians queued silently at a church in Ruse on Friday to pay their last respects to Viktoria Marinova, the television journalist whose brutal rape and murder shocked the country and triggered debates over freedom of the press.

The body of the 30-year-old Marinova, a host of a regional current affairs show at a local TV station, was found in a park near the Danube port of Ruse, her hometown, on Saturday. Police said she had been raped, beaten and strangled.

A Bulgarian man, Severin Krasimirov, 20, was arrested in Germany over the killing, and German authorities said he would be extradited to stand trial in Bulgaria soon.

Bulgarian prosecutors said no evidence indicated Marinova's death was related to her work. A random attack and sexual assault were the most likely motive, they said, although they were still investigating all possibilities.

In her last aired show, Marinova featured investigative journalists and pledged to engage in similar work, which stoked fears about retribution against journalists exposing corruption. She is the third journalist to be killed in the European Union within a year.

Marinova, who left a seven-year-old daughter, is to be buried later on Friday in Ruse Cemetery. More than 500 grieving Ruse citizens, carrying red and white carnations and funeral wreaths, flocked to the funeral service at the Sveta Troitsa (Holy Trinity) Cathedral.

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